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New Game Round-up: Emanuele Ornella Self-Publishes Again, Kanai Creates a Love Letter & Kramer/Kiesling Head to Italy for Marble

W. Eric Martin
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• After placing designs with a number of other publishers, designer Emanuele Ornella has announced a new release from his Mind the Move titled La Loire, with the game debuting in a limited numbered-and-signed edition at Spiel 2012 in October. Here's an overview of the game with few details of game play:

In 1477, the French king Louis XI created the royal mail service. Within a century it evolved into a complex postal and merchandise delivery system. Several post offices, warehouses, and a delivery network based not only on carriages and horses but also on fluvial boats quickly arose. The main stream of commerce and information flowed through the Loire Valley, located in Central France and the middle stretch of the Loire River. It was a period of development and wealth for the villages and cities that bordered this body of water.

Who will become the richest merchant or messenger in the France of the 15th century? Who will cover all the streets along the Loire Valley? Who will build the richest palace, the more prosperous abbey? Who will have at his service the mightier personalities?

La Loire is a wonderful challenge for one – yes! face yourself! – to four players, a passionate struggle of resource management!

Die Paläste von Carrara is a new game from designers Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling that German publisher Hans im Glück will release in mid-October 2012 in time for Spiel. Z-Man Games and Filosofia Édition will release the game in, respectively, English and French, but no release date has been announced yet for those versions. Here's an incredibly brief (and possibly highly inaccurate) summary of the game:

In Die Paläste von Carrara, players want to buy the marble from this famous region of Italy as cheaply as possible – but any reduction in price will benefit opponents as well. Maybe you'll find it profitable to instead invest in the buildings created from this marble? Maybe it'll be more worthwhile to grab the expensive raw material when bigger buildings in town turn out to be not so lucrative?

• Before the end of 2012, Alderac Entertainment Group will release the fourth game in its Tempest line, with the design coming from an unusual source. The game is Love Letter, and the designer Seiji Kanai – but Kanai did not set out to design a game for Tempest, much less AEG. Instead AEG found Kanai and his creation while in Japan at the Game Market, and they realized that this game was perfect for part of the Tempest storyline, with 2-4 players trying to get their love letters to Princess Annette within her tower. An overview:

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!

Yes, only sixteen cards! The game sounds like nothing, but it's perfect for what AEG is trying to do and its smallness is not unexpected given the nature of Japanese game releases – at least from what I've seen via Japon Brand and elsewhere.

As mentioned above, each player has a one-card hand. On a turn, you draw a card and play one, using the power of the played card (usually) to take an action against someone, often with the hope of removing that person from competition. Doing so, however, typically exposes you to blowback from other players, especially if you swap hands with someone as with so little information in the game, every bit is precious!

That said, removing one card from the deck before the round starts is key to the game since you don't want perfect information in play. You need to take chances with bluffs in order to have a chance of ending up with the highest card in hand at the end of the round.

Each round of the game lasts a couple of minutes, and the first player to win a certain number of rounds wins the game. AEG's Ed Bolme taught Love Letter to me and fellow BGG admins Scott Reed and Chad Krizan at Gen Con 2012, and we played a couple of rounds around a garbage can while BSing about various things. The next day, Bolme caught me and Reed walking across the convention hall for an interview with someone, and we played a round of the game while walking past all the booths. Few games meet that standard of portability – plus the design is incredibly clever. A tiny masterpiece...
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